Venezuela and Iran agree to expand ties on oil amid U.S. sanctions

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Iran’s hard-line president signed a 20-year cooperation agreement Saturday, a day after Maduro praised the Islamic Republic for sending badly needed fuel to his nation despite U.S. sanctions.

In an interview with President Maduro after his arrival in Tehran for a two-day visit, Iranian state media reported late Friday that Maduro hailed Iran’s move to send fuel tankers to his energy-hungry nation.

“Tehran’s delivery of oil to Caracas was a great help to the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Maduro’s first visit to Iran comes amid tensions across the Middle East over the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. U.S. sanctions and rising global food prices are choking Iran’s ailing economy, putting further pressure on its government and its people.

A high-ranking political and economic delegation from Venezuela — which like Iran is under heavy U.S. sanctions — is accompanying Maduro on his visit, following an invitation from hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi.

In a joint press conference Saturday, Raisi and Maduro signed a 20-year agreement to expand ties in the oil and petrochemical industries, the military and the economy.

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